Age, lifestyle, climate and fashion persona play a crucial role in determining which wardrobe items are best for you. The same is true of wardrobe essentials. If we each put together a list for ourselves right now, they would all look slightly different. It is a personal thing.

So although they are often listed as such, I don’t believe the following six items are a universal set of wardrobe essentials.

  1. White Button Down Shirt or Blouse: I’m personally a huge fan, but only about 20% of my clientele wear them. Many women are adverse to wearing woven button down shirts because of fit and comfort issues. Some don’t like the idea of dry cleaning and ironing. Others don’t like white, or just find the style too business-y.
  2. Dressy Black Trousers: I don’t have a pair unless my cropped harem pants count (and I don’t think they do). I prefer a classic black pencil skirt over a pair of black dress pants. Most of my corporate clients wear black dress pants, but most of the others don’t. Even if you do need to satisfy a business formal dress code, you can do so with formal skirts and dresses.
  3. Assortment of Basic T-shirts: 80% of my clients have a collection of good quality basic layering and graphic T’s. It makes perfect sense for child-friendly and uber-casual settings.  But I don’t own one tee apart from a few comfies I sleep in. I’d prefer to wear a casual shirt or blouse in casual settings because that’s my style.
  4. Little Black Dress: I own many little black dresses because I LOVE dresses and sport a dressy style. But you don’t need to own a little black dress! In fact, black might not be your best colour. In this case a little charcoal grey, eggplant, brown, ink blue or red dress might be more suitable. Or perhaps you’re a separates gal instead of a dress gal and that’s fabulous too. Only about 60% of my clients own LBD’s.
  5. Trench Coat: First, you need the climate for a trench. You don’t need a trench coat if you live in Singapore and you never travel to colder climates. Second, even if you have the climate you might not be a trench coat gal. Only 75% of my clients have trench coats. The rest prefer to sport sweater coats or short wool jackets.
  6. Jeans: All my clients own jeans and I too am a big fan. But that doesn’t mean that you need to wear jeans to be stylish. I know enough super stylish gals who don’t wear jeans. They prefer denim or casual skirts and dresses. It took my late Mum 58 years to wear jeans. In her last year at 59 she finally wore jeans and quite liked the look. Even though I thought Mum looked killer in her jeans and blouse, it wasn’t her style. She much preferred wearing a casual skirt.

Guidelines on wardrobe essentials are helpful because they provide a solid starting point. But fine tuning these guidelines for YOU and your needs is key. Style is nothing if not a celebration of individuality.